The Consolidation of Education and Health in Families

TitleThe Consolidation of Education and Health in Families
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsMaralani, V, Portier, C
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
ISBN Number0003-1224
Keywordsconsolidation, Education, health, Marriage, multidimensional inequality, sorting

For a given person, many socioeconomic resources are correlated, but resources also accumulate in families, depending on how people sort in relationships based on their individual characteristics. This study proposes that people match on multiple resources in long-term relationships as a strategy for creating families with systematically advantaged portfolios?a strategy we call ?consolidation.? Analyzing Health and Retirement Study data and using smoking as a measure of health, we show that couples match on both educational and health statuses at the start of marriage, and this systematic pattern of matching intensifies over time. We find that matching on smoking is not simply a byproduct of educational homogamy, and that matching on smoking/non-smoking status has increased over time. Moreover, couples increasingly sort on education and health jointly, such that highly educated couples are even more likely to be nonsmoking than would be expected by matching on education or smoking status alone. Increasing educational inequalities in quitting smoking between marriage and first birth reinforce this consolidation process. Using Current Population Surveys, we find these patterns are stronger in marriages than in cohabitations. The consolidation of education and health in couples is an important mechanism that amplifies inequality in families and, potentially, across generations.

Citation Key11761